One of my favorite national holidays is Martin Luther King’s Day.
As I have become older, the importance of the holiday has increased. In my younger years it was just a holiday we got off of school. My teachers would teach us some brief history about Martin Luther King, Jr but it only lasted for a day or two.
You see I grew up in northern Virginia, just south of Washington DC. When you live in a historically rich area such as that, you have a lot of history thrown your way. MLK was only a brief history lesson in my textbooks.
As I got into my early teenage years, I started to realize that there was an entire month dedicated towards Black History.
Martin Luther King was everyone’s go to source for black history information so why did their have to be a whole month of it? My teachers mentioned George Washington Carver and Harriet Tubman but we all knew who everyone seemed to talk about!
I remember whenever there was talk of black history, the face I would always see on posters in classrooms or commercials was Martin Luther King’s. I blindly accepted that Martin Luther King was the only significant major black contributor to black history for many years.
In my middle school years, my county started a “I have a dream” speech contest. The contestants would echo parts of that speech into their own dreams. I heard that speech several times over the years. Never the full version, but just enough to get the jest of the message.
As I advanced in my school years, I learned about Greek history, the Roman empire, Alexander the Great, The Renaissance and various other European centric topics in my history class.
You see I was a history fanatic. I loved to learn about the past. It is only through the past that we can learn what we should not do. In order to know what those mistakes were, we first must know how it came to be.
Understanding how the world got to where it currently is, fascinated me. In my college years, I decided to take a western European history class for my core history credit. Not only did I take one class, I took two western European courses (Pre and Post World War One).
I remember as the second semester of my college years started, a friend of mine told me she was taking an African American history course. She told me that I should think about taking it as well. I brushed it off because I knew that there was nothing in that class for me. I was always in advanced classes and knew all there was about the history of the world.
I didn’t need to know about being a black in America because I was already living the life!
Boy was I in for a rude awakening four years later when I FINALLY took the African American class!
In today’s day and age, we use the term “woke”. That basically means that you are no longer ignorant to racial and social injustices in the world because you are aware of the truth, and the truth is very powerful!
Hands down, the best class I took in my college career was African American history! In less than one chapter form the required reading, I learned more about the historical achievements of black men and women than my previous 15 years of education.
All those years of me being on this planet thinking I knew my identity was shattered. I realized that my school system had failed me. I had failed me! As advanced as my classes were, they did not teach me a thing about my own history! The only thing they thought me was that Martin Luther King was a squeaky clean guy.
As the class continued, we started reading about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. When I saw the name Martin Luther King, my eyes rolled because I thought “hear we go again, the same old I have a dream speech”. Was I in for another rude awakening when I saw how similar Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were!
There was more to Martin Luther King than what most history books seem to paint. He was a complicated man stuck in a movement. He was by no means a perfect man! He was know to cheat on his wife with other woman!
Additionally, the sit-ins, and boycotts were by no means cake walks. Despite the non-violent approaches, the protesters were constantly met with violence and vulgar words. He was arrested over 30 times in a ten year period!
He and his organizations knew what they were up against and kept fighting anyway. In today’s day and age that’s really saying something. It’s hard to image too many people being able to take such a major stand with so much being done to oppress them.
It takes you becoming a better person to get towards that level of self-control.
I’m a guy that’s trying to get people to just eat healthy and exercise on a daily basis. When people try to give me their reasons why they can’t do something, all I have to do is remind them about the Civil Rights Movement. If you want to talk sacrifice, those brave men and women put their lives on the line to make changes!
Your co-workers ordered pizza for lunch?
So what! You’re going to be working in an office that smells of pepperoni while your co-workers are laughing?
That’s nothing compared to being stuck in an alley with the smell of pepper spray in your nostrils while rabid dogs are biting you!
Is your family’s life constantly being harassed by the FBI?
Yes, the same organization that is supposed to protect you has made it their #1 goal to cause you and your family to be torn apart. MLK faced threats from them as well as thousands of others on a daily basis just for wanting to be treated like a human being!
That’s a real sacrifice.
We live in an age of entitlement. It’s rare for folks to really show gratitude or appreciation for how things got to where they are. The fact that I can be a black fitness coach training individuals from all over the globe is remarkable!
I have Martin Luther King and the countless others that paved the way for me to thank.
Trust me, I know there are other African Americans who’s stories need to be told (ummm what about the real women behind Hidden Figures?). I know that their tales need to be added (not subtracted) from our school’s history books. For that to happen it all has to start somewhere.
For me, it was the simple acknowledgement of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr!
Next time you complain about your diet or exercise, just remember what true sacrifice looked like……….Stay humble and aware my friends!
Are you truly thankful for your blessed life?
Do you only show gratitude on Thanksgiving?
Why not be better than average and show gratitude on a daily basis!
Watch the video to get inspired to be a good person every day of your life.
Life is not just about fitness and yourself! Get involved in the world and remember the blessings in your life!
Spring is here! The flower’s are in bloom. Leaves are starting to sprout. The weather is…. warmer?
Well, depending on where you live at, I’m not sure if that last statement is accurate. In the DC metro area, it’s been feeling more like late fall than spring!
But according to the calendar it definitely is springtime, so hopefully this cold weather will disappear and give way to the change.
As this new season approached, how’s your health coming along?
Are you still motivated by your ancient New Year’s resolution?
If you’re like the average person, you gave up on your New Year’s Resolution before the end of January.
If you’re one of those who gave up, I’m sorry to remind you about that failure to commit.
But have no fear, because spring is here!
Let me tell you some ways to use spring to get you motivated to keep (or get back) on track with your desire to turn heads this summer!
Suits, slacks, jeans and a pair of old t-shirts with holes in them. What’s a guy to do?
I got a new solution for you. When going through the task of putting your winter clothes away and getting out your warmer weather clothes, try them on.
Most of these clothes you had are a couple years old. Now’s a chance to see if you’re physically the same person you use to be.
Visual seeing yourself in clothes is an awesome motivation tool! While trying on the clothes, ask yourself:
If you plan on losing weight in these warmer months, you should try on some of your winter shirts, sweaters and pants.
While wearing the clothes simply take a picture of yourself in them. When the colder months come, you can try those clothes back on and see how they fit.
If weight loss is your goal and they become looser, then you my friend made progress!
When was the last time you cleaned your oven?
How about vacuuming all the stairs in your house?
Bathtub and shower needs a scrubbing?
Does your walls have any dirt stains on them?
These simple “chores” are a great way to sneak in some exercise. Not only will your house become cleaner, but also you’ll get fitter in the process.
Don’t underestimate the amount of calories you burn doing household cleaning!
Most people are active during the spring compared to the colder months. Use this to your advantage!
Stop thinking that the gym is the only way to get a good workout. It’s time to use your own two feet and body to have some fun.
Did you know that a house two doors down was for sale?
Did you see that that family two blocks away brand new car?
Go out and explore your neighborhood by getting a good 30+ minute walk. It will benefit your cardiovascular system but also just allow you to take in the sights, smells, and changes in your neighborhood.
In today’s world we tend to not know anything about our own neighborhoods anymore. Don’t be one of ”those” people anymore! Take a walk!
If you’re a person that can handle high impact lower joint exercises, go for it!
If not, walking is absolutely fine! I’m personally a bigger fan of walking, but I respect jogging if that’s what you want to do.
Jogging is one of the simplest forms of cardiovascular exercises on this planet. All you need is some good shoes and a study pace.
Spring’s the perfect time to get on a bike. Even if you don’t own one, you can rent a bicycle for a few hours of enjoyment.
Find a trail or just go through your neighborhood. Have fun! Be a kid again!
You don’t have to go hardcore, just have fun with it! Nothing beat’s riding a bike in the real world!
I have only been hiking a handful of times. I use to think this was something you could only do if you were a super outdoorsy person.
I’m defiantly not a person who goes camping. But I respect the idea of hiking. It’s a simple activity that takes you out of your “normal” comfort zone and exposes you to nature.
The hike doesn’t have to be strenuous, just something simple. Who knows, maybe you’ll start to enjoy it.
I know the few times I’ve been, I actually enjoyed it. It’s definitely on my to do list for this spring season.
If you live in a house with a yard, extend your clean up to that outside. Cutting grass is an effective way to burn some fat.
With spring in the air, maybe it’s time to upgrade your flower garden. If you are serious about eating healthy, why not plant your own vegetable and herb garden.
Again, these simple tasks are a great way to get exercise in while also relaxing from your hard week of work!
Now this may not be necessary physical exercise but I do think it’s important to know more about where you live. In today’s society we tend to spend more time with our head down then paying attention to our own community.
Get you head up! Look around and know what’s going on! Do you know your neighbors?
If not, maybe it’s time to say hi to them whenever you see them. This insures that you know who they are and they know you.
I remember as a kid, knowing the names and faces of everyone in my neighborhood. If something was to ever happen to me as a kid, there were several adults who had a clue about what I looked like.
I just don’t see that same connection anymore. Maybe it’s the neighborhoods I’ve lived at. If you’re connected in your neighborhood consider yourself lucky!
By knowing your neighbors, maybe they could join you on your walks? Or maybe you will find a new workout buddy with the same goals as you. You will never know unless you connect.
Well there you have some great ways to use spring to motivate your health and fitness.
My freshman year of high school is when America Online really took off in America. I was blessed enough that my mom bought me a computer for my Christmas present that year. It had a whopping 100 MB hard drive! My how times have changed.
AOL became my best friend throughout high school. I was always on Instant Messenger reaching out to people. I would be on message boards and chat rooms just typing away!
I even reconnected with a close childhood friend of mine. Remember those days when you had to pay for long-distance? Chatting on AOL IM took care of that.
I use to be embarrassed with how much time I spent on AOL. I guess that’s nothing compared to how often people use social media nowadays.
Due to my newfound friend called AOL I played a lot of games. My favorite one was Air Warrior. I would play it 12+ hours a day if possible. My weekends revolved around Air Warrior. Who needed friends in the real world!
My buddies were all fellow pilots like myself in Air Warrior. Air Warrior was a way for me to escape the reality of my real world and interact with grown adults. These were grown adults who played video games but treated me with respect.
It was something about being respected and having a normal conversation with people all across the world that drew me to those online games. Those guys opened my eyes up towards possible careers and dreams to pursue. All from a simple game.
Growing up my brother always would have pet fish. When he left the house I was determined to have my own pets. My mom never wanted a dog therefore she settled on me having gerbils.
In my middle school year I had a couple gerbils but they all quickly died. When I got to high school I decided to try and get a pet guinea pig. I loved that guinea pig to death. Sadly it unexpectedly died. That hurt more than the gerbils dying.
Eventually my dad and his family had a Cocker Spaniel they could no longer keep. My mom agreed to that I could have the dog. My dad drove from Cincinnati to Virginia to drop the dog off. I had the dog for less than 24 hours before the dog ran away.
Two months later a animal shelter found the dog. If I could go back in time, I would tell my mom and myself DON’T FALL FOR THE CUTENESS!! RUN AWAY!!! HE IS EVIL!
I kid you not when I say that was the Dog from Hell! Being on the road for so long just caused the dog to go crazy. The dog would only use the bathroom inside the house. So almost every day I had to clean up the mess. Additionally the dog would constantly bark and growl at EVERYONE who entered our house. I could never take the dog on walks because he would just go berserk.
I had Scotty for almost a year before we gave him away. It sucked because I always wanted a dog. Little did I know I would get a dog from hell! It was the perfect finale for my pet owner experience during those teenage years.
I did not attend one single school related dance. No Prom. No homecoming. I do not feel like I missed out on a life changing moment because I always knew I would do more after high school than in it.
My only regret is just not asking the girls who had crushes on me to the dances. Throughout my childhood, I could spot them out. One of those girls actually asked me to escort her to Homecoming.
I respected the nerves it took for her to approach her crush and actually ask me out. I know our families were expecting me to say yes because I was Mr. Nice guy. Nine times out of ten I probably would have said yes.
But at that moment in time, I was afraid of her thinking that it was more than just a friendship. Because I didn’t want to give false hope I said no.
The weeks leading up to homecoming I felt pretty bad. Due to that situation, I never even thought about asking any other girl to a dance. I didn’t want to look like a jerk.
In my senior year, I did have a girl I thought I was in a long distance relationship with (remember AOL was my best friend!). We were suppose to go to our senior proms together but she broke up with me a month before prom season.
That was a huge uppercut to the gut. The weeks prior to the break up, every time I called she was always hanging out with some guy. I saw the writing on the wall, I was just hoping for us to last until prom before we went our separate ways. Nope, she beat me to the punch!
So with the months invested in that false relationship (looking back I can’t even call it a real relationship), I didn’t even think about local girls to ask to the prom. A couple girls told me they were not going to the prom (giving hints that they wanted me to ask them), but I was so rattled by the long distance break up I never asked. Again, I don’t regret not going to the dances, I just regret not asking anyone that wanted me to ask.
In high school I underachieved in all my classes. Despite school being extremely easy for me I just never inspired to go above and beyond. I was OK with just getting C+’s and B’s for grades. I never tried to get straight A’s. I knew I was suppose to go to college, so I just did the minimum to get accepted by the average college.
Once I got accepted into college during the fall of my senior year I REALLY stopped caring. Senior year became a joke to me. I took several college level classes that year with the intent on getting college credit.
Once I found out that I wouldn’t get credit due to not meeting the grade criteria, it was a wrap! I took not caring to a whole different level! I showed up to classes and would sleep. I would get F’s on purpose to disrupt my Statistics teacher’s perfect student average grade bell curve (I didn’t like the guy for some juvenile reason). I felt I tried so hard for so long, that it was time for a break.
Little did I know that I was still eligible for several scholarships. Due to being a minority I was involved in special guidance counselor programs. I half listened to the advice and warnings about college scholarship opportunities. One day I got invited to a awards ceremony for Northern Virginia fraternities and sororities.
At this point in my life I had no idea what a fraternity or sorority was. I was completely ignorant to their existence. Apparently I was eligible for numerous scholarships from this group before this award ceremony took place. Additionally there were other local and national scholarships that I could have won if I had applied during my senior year.
I totally regret not trying hard enough in school because it was a slap in my face when I went to college and saw the financial aid they were getting due to grades. I ended up paying more for my education all because I was ok with just being average. The lesson I try and to tell the youth today is always try and do your best. Don’t just settle for being average!
I went from being a chubby middle school kid to a towering 6’ 1” in less than five months. This growth spurt occurred at the end of eighth grade into my freshman year of high school. The problem with this growth spurt is that it hid my potbelly developed from years of neglecting my body. I now could fool people in thinking I was in shape visually but physically I was a very unhealthy boy.
Due to my new height I was determined to play a sport. I always wanted to play football so I decided that my freshman year I would play high school freshman football. You couldn’t get cut so I liked my odds of making the team!
It was an interesting experience to go from coach potato to actually running sprints in football pads. Due to the mental block in my mind, I was convinced I should play on the offensive line. I kept thinking I was an overweight kid when in reality I should have been a wide receiver or tight end due to my new body.
I didn’t have confidence in my ability when compared to the others on the team who played since they were six years old! As a skinny offensive lineman I was definitely over matched! Lack of confidence also led to the coaches never knowing that I was the only player on the team without a playbook.
The two times I missed practice were the moments that playbooks were being handed out and team photos being taken. So there’s no proof that I played freshman football. No family or close friends saw me play. Only people who knew were my teammates.
Well my high school athletic career did not last that long. During the third or fourth week of football practice I ended up injuring my knees. I did not even get hit or tackled. It was a fluke injury in which I just jumped and landed on my knees awkwardly.
What happened next was a pain that I’ve been experiencing for the rest of my life. I immediately knew something was wrong because both knees had pain in the same exact place.
I went to the doctor and got the news that I had sprained ligaments in both knees. Due to the severity I was told to use crutches for the whole first month of school. I kept that to myself and avoided the crutches. I ended up missing the last week of practice before school started.
The next time I showed up to practice was the first week of freshman year. I told showed the coaches my doctors note (which only stated I would need one week to heal). Due to this being week two I was told to go out and try to practice with the team.
I remember crying in practice because I was in so much pain! Teammates and coaches thought I couldn’t take getting hit. But the hits were not the cause of the pain. I felt like my body just gave up on me and my knees were in constant pain. I went to every practice and attempted but I was only 10% healthy. Feeling pressured by the coaches to “step up and be a man” is one of the biggest regrets in my life.
Due to the bad experience of the coaches (who thought I was lying all the time about my pain) and my knees never properly healing, I never attempted another sport while I was in high school.
Looking back I should have stayed in the football program and used them as a way to get into lifting weights. By lifting weights at that age I would have made my knees stronger as well as other parts of my body.
Additionally, I should have at least tried one more sport. For a sports fan like myself it’s sad to see the young me never taking a risk. The current me would gladly go back in time to smack this young version in the back of the head!
I was always an outsider when I was in school because I was always placed in advance placement classes. In my freshman year I took a schedule that most upper classmen had therefore I had a lot of juniors and seniors in my classes.
I kept up with my theme of being friends with teenagers older than me. When I was in my own grade level class it was very hard to relate to students. I was so use to being around older crowds in my personal and school life; I just couldn’t connect with them.
When I was in classes with seniors, they were just average teenagers. Nothing advanced, just seniors doing the minimum to graduate. Most of them didn’t take school seriously, so I was selective in whom I would actually talk to. I had to play quiet Mike. I was stuck in this world of always feeling like an outsider.
In my advance classes I started noticing a pattern. This pattern had been developing every since I was in elementary school. I ignored it than but it become more obvious during my high school years.
I noticed that I was always one of two black male students in the class. I rarely had more than one other black male student. There may have been one to three black female students as well. Outside of the black students there may have been three to four other minority students in a class of 30 students.
I noticed that our curriculum always centered on European philosophy and history. I would rarely hear tales of the other races in our classes. If I’m in advanced classes why did my all projects and reports have to deal with people who disrespected my ancestors? Why does everyone always want to look at me when we rarely talked about slavery?
It was very tough to relate to most of the majority of the kids in those classes because they were not consciously aware yet. The majority of the kids in my advanced classes had a mom and dad at home. Whereas I was in a household of a single mother raising kids on her own.
I would see their parents buy them the latest computers, cars, video games, CD’s and clothing. The kids who were not financially wealthy appeared to always be in the “normal classes” not those advanced classes. That made me feel even more of an outsider among the advance group.
Knowing that I was ethnically and financially different made me want to stop being in the awkward situations I was in though out childhood. Due to growing up in that type of environment, it effected my decision to avoid the majority of engineering colleges in Virginia. I didn’t want to go to an Historically Black College, but I did want to go to a college that was ethnically diverse among all races.